Monday, 2 July 2012
Apple succeeds in getting Google Nexus banned [u]
Following a Friday hearing before Judge Lucy Koh at the Californial District Court in San Jose, Samsung’s Google Nexus smartphone has been temporarily banned in the US. Apple was successful in convincing the Judge that its claims of patent infringement were likely to succeed based primarily on the validity of the so-called “Siri” patent. Although there are four patents at issue, the Judge has issued the temporary injunction based on the one she believes may be costing Apple sales of its flagship iPhone 4S.
While the Galaxy nexus is not Samsung’s biggest seller, the fact that it’s the latest “vanilla” development device, designed and built with input from Google, gives it an importance that exceeds its mere sales numbers. Judge Koh, in her ruling on the injunction, stated… "Apple has clearly shown that it is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary injunctive relief”.
However, she also acknowledged that Samsung was definitely going to suffer irreparable harm as a result of her agreeing to the injunction, and ordered Apple to post bond to the tune of US$96 million as compensation for lost sales should the forthcoming patent trial find Samsung was not infringing Apple’s patents.
By the time the full patent trial is heard, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus will be just a footnote in smartphone history so Apple desperately needs this injunction to ensure no more Nexus handsets are able to compete right now with its own iPhone 4S, competition that is clearly hurting the Cupertino colossus in the marketplace.
Samsung has issued a statement that, like the situation regarding the recent injunction on its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, the company was asking to have the injunction order stayed while a challenge to Judge Koh’s ruling is heard. Samsung’s standpoint on the ruling is that Judge Koh erred in basing her decision on “stale” evidence and refusing to allow fresh, more relevant evidence to be admitted. The court is expected to hear submissions on that issue and rule accordingly within the next 48 hours.
Samsung’s Nexus features its own Siri-like Unified Search Feature (USF) which allows users to search for info across many locations from a universally available search point, voice-enabled or keyboard-activated based on preference. This ability is the point of contention in the patent battle and while Samsung is the focus of the current lawsuit, the real target is the technology behind the functionality, something that is a Google property and an integral part of its Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.
A Samsung spokesperson on Friday confirmed… "We are currently working closely with Google to resolve this matter, as the patent in question concerns Google's unified search function. Samsung will continue to take all available measures, including legal action to ensure the Galaxy Nexus remains available to consumers."
Given the Galaxy Tab 10.1’s geriatric status and its having been already superceded by a new model, plus the existence of an alternative physical design (10.1N), Apple’s “win” will conceivably have no effect on Samsung’s tablet sales at all, regardless of the eventual outcome of the action. This new ban on the Nexus smartphone though, if upheld, will have an effect as indicated by the size of the posted bond.
Potential workarounds also exist; Google might release an updated ICS with no USF in the shipping OS but with a separate app available from the Play Store for those who must have it.
But no matter how this latest result is spun, it’s a massive win for Apple and will give the iDevice maker even more enthusiasm for the “marketing by litigation” approach it takes to avoid having to fairly compete in the marketplace. Unless there are others like Judge Richard Posner who have the courage to put a stop to this practice, expect to see much more of the same from Cupertino.
Samsung has spelled out its objections to the injunction, claiming that the "Siri" patent does not fit the criteria for the Federal appeals court's "irreperable harm" provision, thus Judge Koh has erred in basing the ban order on that "likely" patent infringement. The Korean smartphone maker insists that even a finding of infringement would not meet the appeals court's criteria of market share loss being "substantial", Apple having failed to furnish proof that the patent in dispute contributes sufficiently to sales for it to qualify.